A virtual film festival is a strange thing. There’s none of the usual fanfare. No directors introducing their movies to packed auditoriums, no industry hobnobbing, no tangible momentum for what would have been the launch of another typical awards season. Those of us covering the Toronto International Film Festival over the past week have done so from our computers, streaming titles that would otherwise be seen on a big screen. Without the energy of an audience, it almost feels like the event didn’t happen at all.
And yet it did, with 50 features on the lineup instead of the usual 300. A few of them have already seen glory, like “Bruised,” Halle Berry’s directorial debut, which reportedly sold to Netflix for a hefty $20 million. The Frances McDormand drama “Nomadland,” meanwhile, generated some of the year’s best reviews, as did Spike Lee’s concert film “David Byrne’s American Utopia.” Even in a year as off-kilter as 2020, autumn will bring with it a number of prestige projects to hold our attention.
Of the movies I saw during TIFF, here are eight worth your time. (FYI: For some odd reason, “Bruised” did not screen for press during the festival, so I wasn’t able to see it.)